Gonzalo’s allusion to Engels in the question of necessity and historical chance, and the position of Marx

In the article « Gonzalo and the question of guiding thought, thought in development, People’s War« , we saw that Gonzalo spoke of necessity and historical chance when dealing about the question of why an individual, and not another, carries the thought.

Here is what he said, precisely:

« The reason that a certain person has come to speak as the Leader of the Party and the revolution, as the resolutions state, has to do with necessity and historical chance and, obviously, with Gonzalo Thought. 

None of us knows what the revolution and the Party will call on us to do, and when a specific task arises the only thing to do is assume the responsibility. »

It is of importance to note that here, Gonzalo alludes to what Engels said. It is important to understand that, because Engels spoke about thought in general, and in particular of the “great men” and their political role in history.

Indeed, if we follow Gonzalo, “thought” is not passive, it is always directly political, revolutionary.

Here is what Engels said, in a letter to Borgius, written in London on January 25, 1894 :

“Men make their history themselves, but not as yet with a collective will or according to a collective plan or even in a definitely defined, given society.

Their efforts clash, and for that very reason all such societies are governed by necessity, which is supplemented by and appears under the forms of accident.

The necessity which here asserts itself amidst all accident is again ultimately economic necessity.

This is where the so-called great men come in for treatment. That such and such a man and precisely that man arises at that particular time in that given country is of course pure accident. But cut him out and there will be a demand for a substitute, and this substitute will be found, good or bad, but in the long run he will be found.

That Napoleon, just that particular Corsican, should have been the military dictator whom the French Republic, exhausted by its own war, had rendered necessary, was an accident; but that, if a Napoleon had been lacking, another would have filled the place, is proved by the fact that the man has always been found as soon as he became necessary: Caesar, Augustus, Cromwell, etc.

While Marx discovered the materialist conception of history, Thierry, Mignet, Guizot, and all the English historians up to 1850 are the proof that it was being striven for, and the discovery of the same conception by Morgan proves that the time was ripe for it and that indeed it had to be discovered.

So with all the other accidents, and apparent accidents, of history. The further the particular sphere which we are investigating is removed from the economic sphere and approaches that of pure abstract ideology, the more shall we find it exhibiting accidents in its development, the more will its curve run in a zig-zag.

So also you will find that the axis of this curve will approach more and more nearly parallel to the axis of the curve of economic development the longer the period considered and the wider the field dealt with.”

It is important to note this allusion of Gonzalo. Nevertheless, politically and also because it is useful, we have to quote Karl Marx. A revisionist thesis which comes often is that Engels added some personal conceptions to Marxism.

This assertion is wrong, and let’s quote here Karl Marx himself, explaining the same concept of thought.

In a letter from September 1843, written in Kreuzenach, for Arnold Ruge, our great teacher explains:

“The reform of consciousness consists entirely in making the world aware of its own consciousness, in arousing it from its dream of itself, in explaining its own actions to it.

Like Feuerbach’s critique of religion, our whole aim can only be to translate religious and political problems into their self-conscious human form.

Our program must be: the reform of consciousness not through dogmas but by analyzing mystical consciousness obscure to itself, whether it appear in religious or political form.

It will then become plain that the world has long since dreamed of something of which it needs only to become conscious for it to possess it in reality.”

What is the consciousness of the world? Of course, it is the thought.

=> documents in English